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The Complete Palawan Travel Guide for 2019

Palawan Island, Philippines

Sprawling white sand beaches, jungles, quiet waterfalls, tranquil lagoons, and the breathtaking beauty of the natural world – all this and more awaits you on Palawan Island, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Nothing defines the island more than its seascapes and the unwavering hospitality of the Filipino people who are always ready to guide and assist tourists who visit the island.

Every year, thousands of locals and tourists from all across the globe set foot on this long and narrow island located in the western Philippines to experience its beaches, lagoons, marine life, delicious cuisine and more. It is the perfect spot for those who are after adventure, relaxation, and the natural beauty of both the land and sea. So, if you are planning to visit this paradise, we have created this complete Palawan Island Travel Guide to help you create a safe, fun, and easy trip.

How to get to Palawan

Palawan Island can be reached via air from cities in the Philippines including Manila, Cebu, and Caticlan (near Boracay). There are a few airports providing access to Palawan:

  • Puerto Princesa International Airport – This is the busiest airport in Palawan, and has the widest variety of flight options. Most international visitors to Palawan fly to Manila first, then from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Beginning in June 2019 there are direct flights to and from Taipei via TigerAir Taiwan.
  • El Nido Airport aka Lio Airport – This is a private airport near the town of El Nido. The airport is owned and operated by the boutique airline AirSWIFT, which has flights to and from Manila, Cebu, and Caticlan. AirSWIFT is also affiliated with El Nido Resorts, a group of luxurious sustainable resorts with four locations near El Nido.
  • Francisco Reyes Airport (formerly Busuanga Airport) – This airport, located in Busuanga, is near the town of Coron. There are a hanful of airlines servicing this airport with direct flights to Manila, Cebu, and Caticlan.
  • San Vicente Airport – Located midway between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, recently constructed (completed 2017) San Vicente airport currently has flights to and from Clark airport on PAL Express and, beginning July 2019, flights to and from Manila on SkyJet.

There is also a ferry from Manila to Puerto Princesa, but the travel time is around 30 hours so flying is generally a better choice for most travelers.

TL;DR: The easiest and most common way to get to Palawan is by air from Manila to Puerto Princesa. It’s an easy, one hour flight. 12Go Asia is a good option for booking flights and other transport within the Philippines.

Click here to see 12Go Asia’s travel options from Manila to Palawan, or use the search form below:

Getting Around Palawan

Getting to El Nido

If you arrive in Puerto Princesa, there are a few ways to get to El Nido. You can take a bus or a smaller shuttle van. The drive takes 5-7 hours, and both options are relatively inexpensive at around US$10-12. Click here to find tickets on 12Go Asia. Private taxis are available, which will be faster but also much more expensive than a bus or shared van. There are also flights on AirSWIFT which can be booked at https://air-swift.com/.

Getting to Coron

Coron is located on Busuanga Island which is north of El Nido. You will need to take a ferry or plane to get there. It is possible to book a joint van + ferry ticket if you are going to Coron from Puerto Princesa. Click here to search available options on 12Go Asia. If you are already in El Nido, you can book a ferry only ticket. Click here for ferry ticket options. You can also take a short flight from Puerto Princesa on AirSWIFT (https://air-swift.com/)

Tricycles and Jeepneys

Two modes of transportation that are prevalent in The Philippines are motorized tricycles and jeepneys. Tricycles are essentially motorbikes with a sidecar or other seating attached. They can carry around four people comfortably. Jeepneys are ubiquitous and iconic Filipino vehicles which are known for their unique and ornate decorations. Both tricycles and jeepneys are good for traveling short distances around Palawan.

What to See and Do in Palawan

There are many breathtaking sights to behold in Palawan and an equal number of activities and attractions to keep you busy. The province of Palawan is comprised of numerous different islands, characterized by white sand beaches,  crystal clear azure waters, and towering cliffs. Many Palawan destinations draw thousands of tourists, beach bums, diving enthusiasts, and nature lovers all year round.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan and one of the gateways to the island’s beauty. The city’s most famous tourist attraction is the underground river at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, located around 50 miles north of the city in the town of Sabang. The underground river is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was recognized as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The river emerges into the sea and features a limestone karst landscape and a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem. It has eight kilometers of underground channels, much of which can be explored. The subterranean cave can be accessed either through a 6-kilometer walk through the rainforest or a 20 minute boat ride which gives you a good view of the karst formations. It is possible to go on your own, but it is far easier and more convenient to join an organized tour. Most of the tours will include pickup and drop-off at your hotel in Puerto Princesa.

Honda Bay

Hop on a boat to get to Honda Bay which is 40 minutes away from Puerto Princesa. Apart from seeing several beautiful beaches, you can also swim and snorkel as part of tour packages. Tourists usually visit Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island which are the best places for snorkeling. As the name implies, at Starfish Island you can see many symmetric five-armed orange starfish. Luli Island is another well-known tourist spot which appears during low tide and disappears at high tide. In Cowrie Island, you can see cabanas and spa huts overlooking the sea. It is named after sea snails called “cowrie” that are found in the area. Another famous island in Honda Bay is Pandan Island which is known for its lush tropical forest and white sands. This private island is oval shaped with nipa cottages and stalls. Those who want to tour on this island need to pay an additional fee.

Ihawig Firefly Watching

A cruise along the pristine waters of Iwahig River would be an unforgettable boat ride. But when the sun sets to welcome the night, you will be mesmerized by the enchanting beauty of thousands of fireflies. The river, which is about 45 minutes away from the city proper, is known for its Firefly Watching wherein the fireflies are seemingly staging a light show for you amidst the darkness.

Kamia Bay Resort & Inflatable Adventure Island

Home to Asia’s largest inflatable playground, this laid back resort has wooden cottages where you can relax and enjoy the view of the beach, but is most well known for its inflatable play area and giant slides. Fun for families and kids of all agents, the inflatable island is worth the 30-45 minute trip from Puerto Princesa. If you get tired of playing in the waters and on the inflatable water park, you can also go biking around the island on an Ecological Trail where you will get a chance to see streams, lakes, and animals that roam around the area. You can also take the Mountain Bike Trail which features more exhilarating terrain.

Nagtabon Beach

Once a hidden getaway, Nagtabon Beach has become more famous recently through social media. Often called the best beach in Puerto Princesa, Nagtabon has crystal clear azure water and a smooth white sand beach. Though growing in popularity, Nagtabon Beach can be a welcome escape from the crowds and chaos of other tourist attractions like the Underground River and Honda Bay.

Ugong Rock Adventures

Puerto Princesa isn’t just about the ocean waters, islands, and its natural beauty. Adrenaline junkies can also have a great time in Palawan. Ugong Rock Adventures has many thrilling activities including the bamboo zip-bike, superman zip line, spelunking adventure, zip lining, caving, and more. Ugong Rock is a 75-feet high limestone rock formation that gets its name from the ‘ugong’ sound it makes when tapped. Aside from all the activities, you can ascend to a viewing deck which offers a gratifying view of karst mountains and lush landscapes.

Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center

Formerly known as the Crocodile Farming Institute, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center is still well known for its crocodile habitats where you can crocodiles of all sizes including baby crocs and massive adult crocodiles. There are also other animals like wild boar, several bird species, and others. The center is not only a tourist attraction but also a research facility for further studies and conservation of endangered crocodile species. Guided tours are available every 30 minutes.

El Nido

Islands and Lagoons

The key attractions in El Nido are its islands and beaches. Tourists avail regulated and standardized tour packages which make it easier to visit El Nido’s white sandy beaches and dramatic islands. Tours include visits to Big Lagoon and Hidden Lagoon on Miniloc Island, Payong Payong, Simizu Island, 7 Commando Beach, Snake Island, Entalula Island, Cathedral Cave, Popolkan Island, Matinloc Island, Tapuitan Island, Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, and others. You just need to choose which tour package you want wherein you can visit particular beaches and islands.

Nagkalit-kalit Waterfall

The falls is located between Nacpan Beach and the proper town of El Nido. To get to the falls, you need to take a 20-minute walk through the forest and river crossings. Once you arrive at the falls, you will immediately fall in love with its beauty. It features a big waterfalls forming a natural pool which is perfect for swimming and a smaller one below it.

Nacpan Beach

Despite the rough road going to Nacpan Beach, it is still one of the famous beaches in El Nido. This endless stretch of beach is a laid-back destination for tourists who wants to enjoy eating seafoods from stalls, play volleyball, surf and others. Other beautiful beaches in the area includes Verde Safari Beach, Duli Beach, Las Cabañas Beach, Secret Beach, and the famous Twin Beach of Nacpan and Calitang.

Cudugnon Cave

Cudugnon Cave can be reached 30 minutes from Snake Island. It was used by ancient Palawenos as a natural catacomb for their dead loved ones. But tourist can no longer find bones and burial jars here since they were taken by archaeologists. Getting into the cave isn’t easy because you need to crawl into a small rock opening before finally reaching a spacious area that is protected from the sea.

Taram Cliff

Climbing the Taram Cliff will give you a thrilling experience as you trek on its steep rocks. But everything is all worth it once you get to the top and see the most breathtaking view of El Nido. The mountain can also be reached through Ferrata Nature’s Canopy Walk, which is a safer trail for reaching the top.


Coron Bay

A breathtaking maze of deep blue waters that surrounds the tall limestone cliffs in Coron Bay is indeed a very gorgeous sight. The mountains are covered with trees and bushes while you can see some shipwrecks on the bay serving as an ideal spot for diving and snorkeling. If you will get an island tour package you will be guided to the best spots for swimming and viewpoints where you can get a good perspective of the Coron Bay.

Kingfisher Park

In Kingfisher Park, you can experience kayaking or padding sibids (local small boats) at day time and firefly watching at night for the Starry-starry Night Tour. This mangrove and bird haven will give you the chance to see specifically endemic plants and animals in Palawan. You can also join the Mount Lunes Santo Trek.

Maquinit Hot Springs

If you want to take a relaxing hot bath at 39 to 40 degrees, visit Maquinit Hot Springs. It is best to have a hot bath at night after you witness the spectacular sunset. This is located along the southern coast of Busuanga Island which is 30 minutes away from the town proper of Coron.

Mt. Tapyas

One of the highest mountains in Coron is Mt. Tapyas where you can get a gorgeous view of the island. To get to the top, you have to climb a set of stairs that stretches 210 meters to the top. But once you see the beauty of Coron below it from the Coron Bay to its islands, you will realize it was really worth the hike!

Twin Lagoons

From a small cave-like opening emerges two small lakes that are created inside limestone cliffs. During low tide, you can a beautiful limestone archway at its surface allowing you to swim through the lagoon. While swimming, you can experience both warm and cold waters giving you a one-of-a-kind swimming time!


There are 13 lakes in Coron but most of them are protected since these are considered sacred by the locals. The Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake are open to tourists. Known as the cleanest lake of Asia, Kayangan Lake can be reached through a trek across a steep rainforest. Meanwhile, the Barracuda Lake boasts rapid temperature changes in its waters with bizarre underwater limestone formations.

Wreck Diving Sites

Back on September 24, 1944, the US Navy attacked a Japanese vessel in Coron Bay leaving behind a number of sunken ships. The wreck is now encrusted with corals and sponges which is one of the favorite diving spots around the world. The WII Japanese Shipwreck in Busuanga Island is one of the famous wreck diving sites. But you don’t need to be an expert diver to see this beauty. You can go the southern end of Lusong Island where the 25-meter Lusong Gunboat is located allowing you to see the underwater beauty at only 5 to 10 meters deep. Other well-known diving sites include the Kogyo Maru wreck, OkikawaMaru wreck, Akitsushima wreck, Skeleton wreck, Irako wreck, Olympia Maru wreck, and the East Tangat gunboat wreck.


Coron is also gifted with different islands including the romantic Banana Island, Bulog Island, Black Island or Malajon Island, Malcapuya Island, and more! You will enjoy the white powdery sands and the turquoise waters of these islands.


Of course, if there are islands, there are beaches too! Banul Beach is a tourist attraction with white sands. You can also visit the Atwayan Beach, Malcapuya Island Beach, Coron Youth Club Beach, Smith Point Beach, and others!

Other Locations Around Palawan

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park

This 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa City, at the center of the Coral Triangle. It is composed of the north and south atoll and the Jessie Beazley Reef. The marine park boasts awe-inspiring biodiversity in its underwater terrain. Divers will also get the chance to encounter marine animals like manta rays, turtles, and others.


The Balabac group of islands is located in Southern Palawan, which is far from Puerto Princesa. It has around 30 islands and islets wherein most of them are privately owned. Hence, tourists need to do prior arrangements with their owners and local guides. It is known for its unspoiled beaches and unscathed charm. Never miss Candaraman Island, Camiaran Island with pink sand, Punta Sebaring, and many more.

Brooke’s Point

In Brooke’s Point, you will find Mount Maruyog or Addison Peak which is 955 meter above sea level, sulfuric hot spring in Mainit Falls, Mt. Maruyog Farm and Garden Resort, Palm View Resort, Sabsaban Waterfalls, and many more!

Port Barton

If you want to avoid the crowd, then Port Barton is a nice place to go. It is the perfect place for people who wants to have a relaxing getaway. You can join tours to the Exotic Island, German Island, Fantastic Reef, Paradise Island, Aquarium Reef, and other beautiful places. Aside from island-hopping through beaches, you can also snorkel above turtles and kayak to nearby islets.


The municipality of Taytay, which is Palawan’s “Star of the North,” is rich in culture and history. This old Spanish town is known for its famous relic, Fort Santa Isabelle that sits in the town’s seascape. Tourist can do island-hopping, snorkeling, Irrawaddy Dolphin watching in Malampaya Sound, kayaking on Lake Manguao, and swimming in Canique Waterfall.

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